Freshman Phenom Leads Raider Golf

Todd Garvey

The Colgate University golf team’s struggles continued last weekend in Olean, NY at the St. Bonaventure Keenan Invitational, held at the Bartlett Country Club. The team finished 13th out of 15 teams with a team score of 631, 41 shots behind Rider’s tournament-best two round total of 590. The young squad has seen its share of disappointment thus far, but looks to improve as the fall season winds down. The shining light for the Raiders, however, continues to be first-year phenom Ricky Hayes. Hayes posted the third-best score on the course for the weekend with a 74 on Sunday followed up by a one under par 71 on Monday, just five strokes behind the medallist, Rider’s Tyler Brewington. Hayes has posted the lowest total for the Raiders at all three tournaments so far this season. “Ricky has really played some solid golf,” head coach Brad Houston said.”He is consistent and has good tournament experience.” Junior Dave Policano finished 38th for the Raiders, posting a score of 156, while classmate Sam Higgins posted a 163, good enough for 69th place. If there is anyone who can turn the Raiders’ struggles around this season, it is Houston, who is in his 27th year as coach of the Raider golfers. “We have the players, we are just waiting for four out of our five to play well all at once,” Houston said. The team has seen consistent play from both Hayes and Policano, but it is still searching for two additional players to post consistently low scores. Hayes and Policano will both hold their spots for this weekend’s match at Lehigh, but the other three spots on the bus are up for grabs. Houston plans to have players go through a series of nine-hole qualifiers this week at Colgate’s Seven Oaks Golf Course to see who will fill those last three spots. “Golf is Golf,” Houston stated. “Whoever is playing the best that week will play.” The Raiders will look to turn things around this weekend when they travel to Bethlehem, PA for the Lehigh Invitational, hosted by the Indian Valley Country Club. While the outlook may look bleak for the Raiders, who have finished 13th, 13th and 14th in their first three matches this fall, Policano feels the team is due for a breakout performance. “I think we can all build off the stellar play of Ricky these last few weeks and make a nice run this weekend at Lehigh,” the junior said. Low scores are a must for everyone this weekend if Policano’s prediction is to come true. Look for low numbers from junior Sam Higgins, classmate Pat Bauer or sophomore Sam Gersten this weekend, as they attempt to solidify their spot on the Raider travel squad. As the cold air moves into the northeast this week, expect to see some lower temperatures in Pennsylvania, which may translate into lower scores for Colgate golfers. Colgate athletes do not fear the cold; rather, they thrive in the arctic temperatures often found in Hamilton. Low temperatures may actually help to even the playing field this weekend.For the Raider golfers, they can only hope that to be the case.